Betting firm William Hill today said it will consult on shutting around 700 stores across the country, putting 4,500 jobs at risk.
The firm blamed the government’s decision to introduce a maximum £2 bet cap on fixed-odds betting terminals in April.
The previous limit was £100.
“Since then the company has seen a significant fall in gaming machine revenues,” William Hill said in a statement this morning.
The company said it would explore voluntary redundancies with its 4,500 staff, whose jobs would be put under review.
“Subject to the outcome of the consultation process, shop closures are likely to begin before the end of the year,” the firm said.
In May last year William Hill warned that the government’s plans would have a major impact on its business.
Around 70 per cent of the gambling giant’s gaming machine net revenue came from stakes above the new £2 limit on the machines.
“At this point, preliminary estimates suggest that the stake limit could result in circa 900 William Hill shops […] becoming loss-making,” it said at the time.
This amounted to around 38 per cent of its stores then.
At the time William Hill warned the £2 limit could slash gaming revenue by as much as 45 per cent and knock £100m off its operating profit.
It also predicted that many of its 900 stores could close as a result.
The bookmaker fell to a staggering £722m loss in the year to March ahead the introduction of the limit after taking an impairment charge to mitigate its impact.
William Hill said that its retail division “has begun to adapt” to the new limit in May, despite taking a 15 per cent blow to gaming revenue.
The gambling giant is instead focusing on expanding into the US, where the US Supreme Court opted to allow gambling on sports games.
Net revenue from the seven states that have legislated to enable legal sport betting grew 48 per cent for William Hill’s quarter ending in April.
It has also bought Mr Green, a digital betting specialist, for £242m in an attempt to diversify its income.